Antigua And USTR To Talk Today About Internet Gambling Issues

In the first meeting between the two countries since the WTO has issued sanctions against the U.S. for violating its commitments in Trade in Services regarding the cross-border trade in Internet gambling, Dr. Errol Cort, Antigua Finance Minister is set to discuss the issue with Susan Schwab, the USTR.

Cort is hoping that the high-level meeting today will lead to a resolution of the dispute.

Dr. Cort boarded a plane to Washington Wednesday night for their meeting on Thursday and said that the sit-down with Ms. Schwab would be the first ‘detailed discussions’ between the two countries over the gambling issue.

Antigua has accused the U.S. of crippling its gambling industry banning Americans from partaking in this recreational activity with operators that are duly licensed to conduct such business on the Island Nation.

The World Trade Organization agreed, backing Antigua’s request to impose sanctions targeting U.S. copyrights and trademarks in retaliation for the gambling ban.

Dr. Cort said, “We believe this matter can be settled in an amicable way because we enjoy an excellent relationship with the United States.” Cort then added, “I am therefore hopeful we can come to some broad understanding in terms of a settlement.”

Cort admitted that the decision of the WTO of $21 million annual fines the U.S. must pay is a setback to Antigua, who was hoping the penalty to be closer to the area of $3.44 billion annually.

A ban put into law last year (UIGEA), has been designed to prevent banks and other financial institutions from transferring funds to any foreign operator of gambling while allowing the same transfers to continue for domestic operators of the same industry.

Rodrique Fairgray